North of Bogota

Heading north from Bogotá towards Venezuela or the Atlantic coast, the road takes you on a historical journey to the heart of Colombia, passing through picturesque valleys, canyons and spectacular high mountain passes. Set on a high plateau is Tunja, capital of the Department of Boyacá. This was the seat of power of the indigenous Muisca and nearby is Laguna Gutavita, believed by many to be the source of the myth of El Dorado. The area also played its part in the liberation of Colombia from the Spanish, particlularly at Puente de Boyacá where Simón Bolívar and his troops fought a decisive battle to wrest control of the country from the conquistadors. Boyacá is dotted with dozens of untouched colonial towns and villages, notably Villa de Leiva and Monguí. From the Andean foothills of Boyacá, the road swoops down to the turbulent Río Fonce and the start of the Department of Santander. Here too the Spanish colonial legacy is very much intact, particularly in the charming villages of Barichara, Guane and Girón. In recent years the area's natural resources, with countless tumbling rivers, caves and deep canyons, have made it the capital of Colombia's burgeoning adventure-sports scene, centred around the pretty town of San Gil. From the Department capital of Bucaramanga, a road climbs northeast over moorland for more lessons in independence history around Pamplona and Cúcuta in Norte de Santander. Another road heads north towards the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and the Caribbean coast.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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